Marathon Monday: When Vacation Strikes

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Fourth of July is my favorite holiday, bar none. I have a serious thing for American flag apparel, and this year, I was lucky enough to head to a friend’s lake house in Indiana to celebrate the long weekend. Since the friends I was with are fellow runners, we got a long run in Friday morning and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, floating, going back for seconds, and cheers-ing. So overall, my normal running schedule wasn’t really disrupted.

However, summer vacations and fall marathon training don’t always mix, especially towards the end of your training when your longer runs are on the weekend schedule. Here are a few tips for navigating a relaxing, fun vacation without feeling like you’ve totally thrown away a week of marathon training.

First of all, don’t beat yourself up. We spend nine months out of the year longing for summer and the freedom that the warm weather brings, and I guarantee you that slacking or completely skipping one week of training will not make or break your finish. That said, definitely keep your vacation in mind when you look at your entire training schedule. You might be able to adjust your mileage for the weeks before and after your trip- talking with a veteran running friend or running coach to get their input, and don’t make any big changes or jumps in mileage without talking to a doctor first.

Depending on where your vacation is, you still might be able to get in some runs, but it’s also completely reasonable not to want to run twelve miles by yourself in the mountains of Ecuador (as I plan on definitively not doing in a couple of weeks). I’ve found that it’s easier for me to run longer mileage earlier in the week before the sun and booze and lack of sleep have taken a toll on my body. Take the vacation as a time to enjoy some shorter runs as well, and if you’re feeling great, you might be able to double-up; for example, a three-miler in the morning and a three-miler at night. If you’re vacationing in a hot and humid tropical environment, a) I’m jealous, b) running on the beach as a workout is no joke, and c) read our tips here for training in hot weather (and don’t forget your sunscreen!).

You can also use this time to take a break from running and explore fun cross-training options. Going to the beach? Try stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, surfing, or beachfront yoga. Heading to a more mountainous terrain? Hiking, especially at higher altitudes, will work your lower body in a way very different from running. If you’re going to a fancy resort, chances are they have a fitness center and they may even offer some classes that you can take advantage of. If all else fails, we know you’ve got your trusty NTC app downloaded and Jeana’s No-Equipment Body Weight Workouts bookmarked on your iPad.

If you’ve had any nagging little injuries that aren’t quite bad enough to see the doctor for, a vacation is a great time to make sure you’re taking extra good care of your body. We all know that marathon training can run your body down, and taking a week off can give your muscles time to repair themselves. Try icing, foam rolling, light stretching and yoga, and maybe even a massage to help your body recover from the ass-kicking workouts you’re putting it through at home.

And finally, enjoy this week off for all it’s worth – because once you get back home, you should be refreshed, re-energized, and excited to tackle the rest of your training program head on!

Do you guys have any vacations coming up? How do you balance vacation with marathon training?

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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